The leadership behind an $11 billion corporation

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Many of the raw materials that make up our cars, soaps and seat cushions were manufactured by Huntsman Corporation. This global chemical company has seen success due to great leaders who have operated on the principles of ethics, entrepreneurship and excellence. John B. Prows, vice president of global engineering and operational excellence at Huntsman, recently visited the Ira A. Fulton College, and in his lecture, he shared success stories and advice to prospective leaders.

His first piece of advice, taken from David O. McKay was, “Whate’er thou art, act well thy part.”

“If you’re going to be an engineer, be a good one. If you’re going to be a farmer, be a good one. If you’re going to be an English teacher, be the best one you can be,” Prows said. “Excellence really is about being the best you can be.”

Part of the success of the Huntsman Corporation has come through buying failing businesses and transforming them into functioning, profit-producing units. He likened this to individuals. As Prows said it, individuals are always able to change. Indeed, change is often required to ensure survival. However, one thing that cannot change is the moral standard that guides a person’s actions.

“We must have a value framework. Somehow, we need to have a fixed value framework in a world that’s constantly changing. You get to choose your own behavior, but you don’t get to choose the consequences.”

To help students become future leaders, Prows gave a few techniques that have led to success in his own career:

1) Be honest and have integrity.

“Without it you can win for a while,” Prows said, “But you will lose in the end.”

2) Make wise decisions.

3) Be a problem solver.

4) Be a team player.

5) Experience and appreciate the world.

Prows shared several anecdotes from his work-related travel. “I’ve been to a lot of different places in my career,” Prows said. “There’s a wonderful world out there.”

The Leadership Lecture series, organized by the Weidman Center for Global Leadership, aims to help students become outstanding leaders throughout the world. Students have much to gain from the industry professionals who come to speak.

The next Leadership Lecture, featuring Matt Smith of BD Medical, will be February 21.  For more information, www.et.byu.edu/leadershiplectures

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